A symbol of love and kindness – white birch
“White birch, I love you, give me your thin branch.” These words from an old song express the tender feelings that people have for the wonderful tree. The famous Russian poet Sergei Yesenin expressed his admiration for nature by describing a white birch tree under a blanket of snow. And such artists as Shishkin, Levitan and Kuindzhi captured her in their paintings.
Although birch is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to cold Siberia, only in Russia has it gained such popularity. As an invariable symbol of a mighty country, the tree has always been associated with kindness and love..
Interesting information about the beautiful birch
The tree got its name in honor of the ancient Slavic goddess of good beginnings. Therefore, it is not surprising that our ancestors named it the tree of 4 things: for cleansing, healing, affection and lubrication. So with the help of a birch broom, cleanliness was maintained. Kidney infusion was taken for treatment. The wheels of the cart were oiled with tar. And the beauty of the tree, admired during summer evenings.
A birch torch reliably illuminated the huts of the poor peasants when they returned home from the field. And the ancient records on white wood scrolls are still preserved..
Interestingly, the famous Faberge made a luxurious egg from birch wood in 1917.
In addition, this magnificent tree was minted on one of the anniversary coins of Russia. Truly a birch is a symbol of a great country.
General characteristics of the famous tree
Despite the fact that birch is familiar to many people, it will not be superfluous to take a closer look. It is a deciduous tree with smooth white bark showing dark streaks on its surface. In old trees, the root part of the trunk is covered with a gray crust, on which deep cracks appear. Its height can reach over 30 meters. The crown is spreading. Despite this, there is always a lot of light in the birch grove, which causes considerable delight..
How many years does a birch live? Some species are up to 400 years old. Basically, the plant lives for about 200 years. Anyway, longer than a man.
The branches of a young tree are colored brown or red, which eventually acquire a bluish tint. Small warts resembling miniature beads are evenly spaced on them..
The leaves are shaped like rhombuses or triangles. They are usually pointed at the tips and serrated. The leaf plate is slightly leathery, sticky in the spring. Color – bright green.
The birch bloom appears on the tree in April or May. The inflorescences are all sorts of catkins. Male variants appear in the summer and are colored, first green and then brown. Each earring is coated with a special waterproof substance to protect it from frost. It is in such a shell that they hibernate..
With the arrival of spring, the male earring grows, and yellow stamens protrude outward. During the flowering period, they emit a huge amount of pollen..
Female catkins of common birch appear on the lateral sides of the branches. They are much shorter than their partners, but remain on the tree after pollination. Male earrings fall to the ground.
In August, birch already has fruits that ripen until mid-winter. They are a miniature walnut with transparent wings. Under favorable conditions, germinate immediately.
The complex root system of birch, which constantly needs moisture, is especially striking..
It includes 3 types of roots:
- main root;
- side elements;
- adventitious roots.
During the development of the birch, the main root dies and growth slows down a little. After that, the lateral elements of the root system begin to actively grow in different directions. The adventitious roots are practically on the soil surface and have no branches.
Usually few other trees are found near the birch. The main reason is that a powerful root system pulls out almost all nutrients from the soil. When growing a birch in a summer cottage, this feature of the tree should be taken into account.
Since the roots of birch are not very deep, young seedlings may be damaged in strong winds..
At first, the seedlings grow at a slow pace, since the main root is in no hurry to give up its positions. As soon as it dies off, the lateral roots begin to actively develop and the birch tree takes root..
In addition, birch is unpretentious in terms of soil. It wonderfully takes root on sandy and loamy soils, chernozems and even impoverished lands. Found off the coast of rivers and even seas. Dwarf species grow on rocky ground and in the tundra, where the permafrost is.
Due to its unpretentiousness, birch takes root well in the summer cottage. You can plant it in autumn or early spring..
You should not choose large, middle-aged trees for planting. They rarely take root in a new site. The optimum age of a seedling for spring planting is 3 years. In winter, you can plant a seven-year-old birch. Seeds are planted regardless of the season.
The life span of birch depends on the species and local conditions. Basically it is more than 100 years old.
The most famous types of birches
Investigating this tree, scientists came to the conclusion that there are about 100 species of birch in nature. In general, they were divided into 4 groups:
- Albae. The group includes birches with white bark.
- Costata. Trees have a ribbed trunk and leaves with a rough surface.
- Acuminatae. Birches of this group grow in warmer latitudes and are distinguished by large leaves..
- Nanae. All dwarf varieties with small leaves belong to this group..
Consider the most popular types of birches that are found on the territory of Russia.
This type of birch grows up to 20 m in height. It has thin hanging branches and a smooth trunk with a whitish bark. In older specimens, the lower part of the trunk acquires a dark gray color of the bark. Deep cracks also appear on it..
The branches of such a birch are reddish or brown in color. On them you can see small resinous warts. Hence the name of the tree species. In addition, for the fact that the branches stretch downward, it is called drooping birch. The crown is most often wide, but in adulthood, slightly thinned with branches drooping down.
The leaves are usually in the form of a diamond or triangle. They have a wedge-shaped base and a smooth surface. The edges of the leaves are serrated, the tip is pointed. Delicate aroma, especially in spring when the tree is in full bloom.
During this period, bare and sticky buds appear on it. At the base, they are slightly widened, and at the top with a sharp tip..
Birch catkins grow on twisted branches. After pollination, in their place, fruits grow in the form of an oblong nut with wings. They ripen in late summer or September..
Where warty birch grows, there is always clean air and unearthly beauty. The tree is found in mixed forests or in pure birch plantations.
Wood is considered one of the best natural materials for making furniture and various crafts. Greens are used medicinally. And birch sap is a unique healthy drink.
The most common species found throughout Russia is downy birch. It grows both in the European part of the country and in the Siberian tundra..
In its natural environment, the tree feels great among other deciduous or coniferous relatives. Ideally, it creates birch groves where other trees do not exist. The tree is resistant to cold weather, tolerates a fairly low temperature.
In the photo of a fluffy birch, you can see a gorgeous spreading crown, which gives the tree a majestic look. It grows up to 30 meters in height. The trunk girth reaches approximately 80 cm. The bark on it is always white without deep cracks. It is smooth to the touch. Although young seedlings have a brown or red trunk, at the 10th year of life it turns white and does not change anymore.
Unlike drooping birch, the branches of this species do not have small warts and do not droop. The crown of young seedlings is narrow and slender. In adults – a spreading shape.
Male earrings are colored brown and appear on branches in summer or autumn. There they winter safely, and in the spring they meet with female catkins, which grow simultaneously with young leaves..
They bloom in April or early May, after which fruits are born in the form of oblong nuts. Each of them has 2 transparent wings, which allows you to fly away from the tree.
The leaves of fluffy birch are alternate, up to 7 cm long. The shape is ovoid or rhombic with a pointed tip. In young trees, they are light green. Darken with age, and yellow in autumn.
Once a famous Russian scientist drew attention to the special properties of a cute tree. This happened during a special expedition to the Far East. He was the first to describe this unusual tree. It was named – Schmidt birch, in honor of the famous scientist.
In its natural environment, except for the Far East, the tree is found on the Japanese islands, Korea and China. Most often it grows on rocky soil, not far from rocks. It is adjacent to various deciduous trees in mixed forests. Interestingly, during fires, she remains unharmed. Its unique wood does not burn, for which it received its name – iron birch.
The tree loves a lot of light, so in forests its trunk can be bent, due to the desire for the sun.
This unique oriental tree is grown in many botanical gardens in Moscow and other cities of Russia. Therefore, it is quite possible to acquire young seedlings and plant in the country..
Outwardly, the tree does not look too much like a birch. Its few branches grow at a 45-degree angle to the trunk. A birch tree grows up to 30 meters in height. The bark of young seedlings is gray or brown in color, the branches are brown. As the birch grows older, the branches darken and it takes on a black appearance..
The leaf plate of a tree is oval with a scalloped frame. The iron beauty blooms in May, after which egg-shaped nuts appear. When they are ripe, they are blown in different directions by the winds. Once in suitable soil, the seeds germinate, transforming into beautiful trees.
Such a miniature northern beauty is found in the cold expanses of the Northern Hemisphere. It also grows in alpine mountains, tundra and mossy marshes..
Dwarf birch is a branched bush that grows up to 70 cm. Its branches have a fluffy or velvety surface. Bark color – brown or brown.
Leaves are oval. The edges are jagged. The upper plate of the leaf is colored dark green and shines a little. The lower part is light, slightly fluffy. With the arrival of autumn, they turn bright red, which looks very chic..
The tree blooms before the leaves bloom, and bears fruit for 2 months – May and June.
Modern biologists have bred several types of northern beauty that take root well in summer cottages. They modestly grow no higher than 5 meters, and some of them even less.
One of the decorative varieties of bonsai is the Junga weeping birch. It grows in 10 years only up to 5 m in height. The diameter of the miniature crown is from 2 to 3 m. The branches hang down in an original way, resembling a willow or Japanese cherry. It is this feature of weeping birch that attracts connoisseurs of green beauty.
To maintain this shape, it is necessary to make decorative pruning of birch. This is especially true for branches that touch the ground. The procedure is performed during the period when the tree is “sleeping”. As a result, a living umbrella from the scorching sun will appear on the personal plot..
Erman’s birch or stone
The tree got its name in memory of the German scientist Georg Erman. Erman’s birch can live up to 400 years of age, therefore it is a long-liver.
Grows up to 15 meters. At the same time, the trunk diameter reaches 90 cm, which is considered an unusual phenomenon. The bark of a stone birch is brown or dark gray in color. As it grows, it becomes covered with cracks, forming intricate strokes on the trunk..
The translucent crown consists of upright branches that fall along the trunk. This can be clearly seen in the photo of this type of birch..
The tree does not require much maintenance. Grows on stony, infertile soils. It perfectly tolerates lack of moisture. Grows in the Russian Far East, Japan, China and Korea.
Quite often, this type of birch is called sweet or stringy. It grows up to 25 meters in height. Young trees have a crown in the form of a pyramid. Older birches have a rounded translucent crown, consisting of hanging branches. The trunk of a cherry birch is rough, dark brown in color with deep cracks. In young seedlings, it has a fragrant spicy smell..
The tree is long-lived. Grows well on rocky soils, but does not tolerate harsh winters. Cherry birch was first recorded in North America. Currently, it takes root well in the Baltics, Belarus and Russia.
River birch or black
This species is the most thermophilic among birches. It reaches a height of 30 meters. The trunk width is 100 cm. The openwork crown consists of falling branches decorated with oval leaves. From above they are painted in dark green, and from below – white or grayish..
The bark is smooth or rough. Color – gray or brown. Some specimens have a creamy pink bark that flakes off like paper. River birch or black birch is found in the United States and is considered a thermophilic tree..
This variety of birch comes in the form of a tall tree or bush. Trees grow from 5 to 8 m in height. Bushes are usually undersized. On the trunk of a Karelian birch, you can see numerous bumps and irregularities that resemble a marble pattern. A truly charming tree!
Having considered the most popular types of birches, you will notice that each of them has its own charms. Tall and short, slender and weeping, “stone” and “iron” – they all give people a lot of positive emotions. As a symbol of kindness and love, birches still inspire romantic people to write beautiful works..
Its branches are invariably used in the Russian bath for a complete cleansing of the body. And tar soap is considered a first-class natural hygiene product. In addition, birch is a decoration for summer cottages, filling it with greenery and shade. And perhaps, thinking under it about the meaning of life, you will want to write a poem or a picture.